Monday, April 25, 2011

Divine Providence: What is it, and why is it important?

follow the link to my newest post on another blog, True Faith: Spiritual Nourishment for the Seeker...wisdom and insight for the Soul..........

It is a bit lengthy, but I hope, well worth the read on an important theological concept to "master".  Enjoy!
s/d.a.s., diakonia.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011.

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia, Alleluia!


Today, Easter Sunday is our high, Holy day.  I have to admit, that as an adult, this took some getting used to.  When we are younger we think about Christmas, and we as children understand the magnitude of the “Christ-mass”, the day God is born among us; we celebrate with many gifts.

So how could Easter, in effect trump Christmas, because make no mistake about it, Easter is OUR day!

For an answer we turn to scripture.  In today’s first reading, we hear St. Peter proclaim Christ raised from the dead.  This is profound in so many ways.

First, we must understand the terror of the Crucifixion.  I have heard it said that it was the electric chair of ancient Rome.  This is a bit off.  Actually this is not even close.  As terrible as death by electrocution must be, crucifixion was something much harsher.  Add to that what Jesus endured, being betrayed, abandoned, then mocked and spit on (by his own people) and then finally stripped, scourged, and mocked (again) as king of the Jews.  Finally he is nailed to the cross through his hands and feet.  He is placed in a position on the cross so that he would suffocate slowly to death, all the while enduring his other near fatal wounds.

How could a body so betrayed be raised?  How could it function after such torture?  Certainly this body could not gain new life.  We will return to this in a moment, but let us recall our Psalm from today, “The stone that the builder has rejected, has become the corner stone.”

Secondly, returning to how weighty Peter’s statement is, one must wonder how Peter went from hiding in the Cenacle to proclaiming Jesus in the Temple, the setting for today’s first reading.  All the Apostles, except St. John, hid once Jesus was captured.  And they remained in hiding for many days, perhaps weeks.  The first book following the Gospel, “The Acts of the Apostles” (from where we hear our first reading today) begins with Saints Peter and John preaching to the very people who condemned Jesus in the Temple. But how?

It is the RESURRECTION.   

It bears reapeating, IT IS THE RESURRECTION.

That is what differentiates us as Christians, and especially as Catholics.  We believe in life after death, everlasting life.  And we are called to eternal life in heaven, among all the angels and saints where we are called to be beyond joy.  We are called to be accepting of Christ and learning, learning to live His Gospel, his Way, imitating his life.

In today’s Gospel, we hear about those two favored Apostles again, Peter and John.  Saint Mary Magdalene calls them to see the empty tomb.  John arrives first (he is a bit younger) and waits for Peter.  Peter looks in and is confused.  In his mind he must be echoing the Magdala’s cry, “They have taken my Lord away and I do not know where they put him.”

Then John goes in and sees and he knows that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead.  The Son of God and the son of Mary has risen.

Imagine John’s delight knowing that it is all true.  Peter will also understand soon (and of course the Magdala). 

This is our faith.  This our faith, is on what we stake our claim on to the world.  We believe that God so loved the world he sent his only son to us, to you and to me.  Jesus is his son, flesh and bones like you and I but also, in this great mystery, the one true God.

The Christ came not for himself but for us, for our salvation to give us a share of his heavenly kingdom.  That is what Easter is about- that we are called out of this world to heaven...  That is why we are to recognize our earthly lives as a pilgrimage to heaven….  A place so fantastic that words cannot describe and as vivid as our imaginations are, they will always fall short.

We are called to eternity, heavenly bliss.  Not to a six figure job, not to that dream house, not to whatever we think will make us happy.  No, there are many good things but all of these things are misleading, they are false truths as compared to what we are truly called to.

We are called to live in Christ.  When we get this, and it is not easy, we have a profound sense of his love, God’s love for us and the world.  Once we receive this certain grace, then we are called to give it away to friends and yes, to strangers.  That is who God is, that is what truth is.  Truth is a person; he is Jesus Christ, who is God. 

Its not about material gifts, as fun and as important that Christmas is.  It is about something much greater: eternity.  Today, in the grace of this great feast we call Easter, we are called to accept this with our “eyes” of faith (like St. John), with our hearts (this is where our faith resides).  Faith is love, something that we cannot buy or sell.  Faith in God is love of God.  That is our great Easter mystery.  As the Psalmist says, let us rejoice and be glad.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, April 16, 2011

Link to Today's Scripture

Palm Sunday.  The penultimate event during these days (second to The Paschal Mystery).

He who Is.

I am who Am.

He returns to Jerusalem finally.  He is heralded in triumph as the anticipated KING.

What can we say.....the Readings are profound (read them again).  Paul's masterful work in Philippians is known as the "Kenosis", a Greek word meaning "emptying".

Though he was in the form of God he took being God as not something to be grasped, so He became a SLAVE (Ph 2:6).

A slave?

Yes a slave.  A slave for love.  A slave for us....

God so loved the world, that He gave the world His only Son, born of a Virgin, from a far off land, the carpenter's boy.  He gave us Himself, all of Himself, emptying out Himself, his blood (Eucharist) and His water (baptism) that all who believed in Him may have eternal life. 
(Jn 3:16)

I suggest we walk around with this verse during Holy week, our immediate preparation for the Triduum, the Passion and Death of our Lord (bow) Jesus Christ.

He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life....our lives.

Say yes to HIM.............

Saturday, April 9, 2011

5th Sunday of Lent, April 10, 2011 (Cycle A)

Link to today's Readings, Psalmody and Gospel

{We will end our homily today with some contemplative thoughts that hopefully will carry us through the day and the week}

Today we will speak a bit about the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection from the dead.

But first, imagine you are surrounded by beautiful olive trees.  They are green, sturdy and thick.  The slope you are on is gentle and moving toward the valley below.  To the one side of the mount, there are thousands of gravesides, marked by their simplicity and their above ground tombs. On the other side of the valley is the ruins of a temple mount, its fortified wall still intact.  Within that wall is a glorious gate, once called the "Golden Gate" but now sealed up.

What are we speaking about?  The olive grove is in the Mount of Olives.  The valley below is the Kidron valley and the golden gate is the entranceway to the old city of Jerusalem.

 View of the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives.  Olive grove is in lower right (Gesthemane)  "Golden Gate" is walled up on other side of valley, in the top left portion of the picture.  The tombs are in the foreground.

At the end of time, the Messiah will walk down the hill through the valley and golden gate and walk into the "new" Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem.  This is essentially what we hear today from the prophet Ezekiel in our first reading (one of the great prophets of the Old Testament).  He says, "I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel."

We must remember an important tenet of O.T. prophecy, that God is speaking to us directly through his prophesized word, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  So because Jesus is God, and is not confined by time or space, Ezekiel is speaking of the expectant Messiah “Jesus” when he says I will open your graves and have you rise from them.

In our reading from Paul, who is arguably the greatest prophet of the New Testament, the Apostle tells us how we can be resurrected.  We must live in the Spirit.  "The Spirit will give life to your mortal bodies also, through the Spirit dwelling within you". What does this mean?

Firstly, we receive the Spirit in the Sacraments.  This Sunday I will have the privilege to Baptize 9 babies.  The babies will receive the Spirit of God in their Baptism, they will be marked forever by Christ, conformed to Him who is God.  This comes to them through the actions of the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of the priest or deacon.

We also receive the Spirit in all the other Sacraments.  Especially in Holy Communion, the sweetest and most sublime of all the Sacraments.  But let us discuss a few others.

In reconciliation, as difficult as this has become in a world that wants to marginalize religious practice, we receive the Spirit through the priestly ministry of Jesus Christ.  That is what absolution is and it can lead to profound grace, an indwelling of the Spirit for a prolonged period of time.  This can be very powerful and helpful, affirming our spiritual journey.

In Marriage, a man and a women offer their consent to each other, which is witnessed by God.  This promise is that they will no longer live for themselves but for the family they are about to create.  We do this in Church so as to receive the grace of the Sacrament, present before the living Lord in the Tabernacle (the Eucharistic Species).

So, you see, the Spirit is visibly present in the Sacraments, through the actions of the minister and then received by those who are recipients of these powerful gifts of Christ through His Church. 

In our Gospel today we hear the powerful story of Lazarus, the man who was dead who is risen by Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  It is a powerful story.  It is a story that is heard at many funerals, perhaps one that we may remember.

One of the reasons that we hear it so much is because we hear that Jesus weeps when he realize how frustrated are those at him because he allowed it to happen.  Our Lord is saddened and frustrated not by Lazarus' death and its emotional effects on the man's kin.  The Messiah is saddened and frustrated because his closest disciples do not yet realize that Jesus has come to destroy death forever, not just in the temporal sense.

Lazarus, surely, will die again after this episode.  If he didn't than certainly we would all be hearing about it on the news, that there is a 2000 something year old man roaming the earth.  No, our Lord lifts Lazarus so as to indicate that he himself will too rise on Easter morning.
Let us recapitulate or “re-cap” what we just have been hearing:
·        At the end of time, Jesus will raise the faithful from our graves and lead us into heaven.  We refer to this in scripture as the New Jerusalem.
·        The Spirit or Holy Spirit is present in the world from the beginning of time and has inspired prophets to speak the word of God.
·        The Spirit animates the Seven Sacraments of the Church.  We discussed Baptism, Eucharist briefly, Reconciliation and Marriage.
·        Our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead for a time, to prepare his disciples to understand Our Lord’s  bodily resurrection on Easter Sunday before his ascension into heaven.

In one weeks time we will celebrate Palm Sunday, that day 2000 years ago when our Lord enters Jerusalem through the Golden Gate.  Today, as we enter our last week of Lent….
we pray for the resurrection of the body and the Spirit that is coming on let us:
  • Return to the Spirit we hear so much about and contemplate the Third Person of the known Triune God (known through our human limitations)
  • Let us dwelling in the Spirit, contemplate our lives........
  • Let us rmember that at Mass, the Spirit will change the gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Lord.  The Real Presence of God through the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • This precious Blessed Sacrament, the sweetest bread from heaven is administered through the Holy Ministry of Priesthood..............